Culture Trip recently spoke with DJ and music producer Michel de Hey, who moved to Amsterdam from the second city of Holland a few years ago. “Like Berlin, Barcelona, London etc,” says De Hey, “Amsterdam has the ‘big city’ appeal – a city that’s alive and in motion all the time, from food to art to club culture. It truly attracts people from all walks of life, which makes it a very special place.”
“I used to joke about people from Amsterdam that they would never come to Rotterdam because they could not go by bike,” says De Hey. “But now I understand. Everything is so close to [everything else], and to get there by bike is super easy, so that makes life very simple.”
When wandering around Amsterdam, it is impossible to avoid the bikes that roam the city. The roads are carefully built in the suburbs to allow easy access for bikes, and the tightly packed city centre also has dedicated cycle paths that run close to the tramlines and crisscross a hundred kilometres of grachten (canals).
“Make sure to know the rules of the road, and make sure you know how to ride as sometimes tourists look like kamikaze pilots on their bikes,” says De Hey. “But trams, buses and the subway are great in Amsterdam, and the train from Centraal Station takes you everywhere in Holland within three hours. Make sure you get a pass for multiple days which makes it a lot less expensive and more convenient.”
Laying out the structure of the city, De Hey reveals a bit more about each district. “There is North, East, South and West, but when you live here there are so many areas with their own identity, either Adam Tower or Westergas Area or Vondelpark. These are entities on their own but they are also part of the West or North of Amsterdam.”
“If you want to put a label on things, West is more for creative people and young families. South is for wealthy people with huge, expensive houses; think lawyers, doctors and professional football players. The East is big for students and has a similar vibe to the West with young families. The North is supposed to be affordable to live in, but generally speaking, at least nowadays, everything is expensive in Amsterdam!”
Part of the reason things are now more expensive in Amsterdam is the number of high-profile companies that have moved here in recent years. Netflix has established a headquarters in the city, and Sony and Panasonic relocated to Amsterdam in recent months. The Eurostar now travels directly to Amsterdam from London, so accessibility has never been better for businesses.
For partygoers – and there are many of those either living in or visiting Amsterdam – De Hey picks out the following clubs as his favourites.
Michel de Hey’s new LP, Let It Go, came out in 2019.